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Exquisite handicrafts on display

Visitors having a look at the exquisite carpets.

Thanks to the AP Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited, craftspersons over the past two decades have adapted themselves to changing trends in lifestyles, contemporary habits and tastes. These artisans, belonging mostly to the ST, SC, BC communities and the minorities, have pursued the crafts from generation to generation.

The ongoing exhibition-cum-sale `Lepakshi Crafts Bazar-2002', organised by the APHDCL at the Viswapriya Function Hall on Beach Road, reflects the dexterity, creativity and imaginative skills of the artisans. The artefacts possess an aesthetic appeal and utilitarian value that provides much relief from the drab, mechanised environs and enrich the decor and add life to a place, be it residence or office.

Take the Bidriware, a craft that originated in Persia and then entered Bidar in Karnataka before moving on to Hyderabad. Mohd Kareemuddin, the craftsman, says that the articles are made out of an alloy of copper and zinc along with pure silver inlay. Gold is also used off and on in place of silver. The items include cigar cases and paper cutters in assorted designs, coat buttons, ear studs, hairclips, pendants, jars, vases, pillboxes, paper weights, cufflinks, candle-stands, mango key chains and shahnai vases.

Then there is silver filigree, a traditional craft from Karimnagar. Every piece looks different and delicate, defying standardisation. The material here is twisted silver, and the articles end up having a trellis-like appearance of jali. The art has, in a sense, not been restricted by tradition. It has extended from jewellery to other household articles like tea-trays, ornament and perfume containers, an irresistible pan-holder, key chains, money purse, napkin holder, supari spoon, sari pin and cigarette cases. The State awardee, D. Krishna Chary, says that silver filigree works are a huge hit with foreigners.

The Bobbili ornamental veenas, a decorative item made of jack wood, would make for a lovely display. The article is made at the Crafts Development Centre in Gollapalli, near Bobbili.

e puppets were used traditionaly in the `Tolubommalatalu' and for rendering the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in play form. Explains K. Prabhakara Rao, APHDCL senior manager (development and finance): "This art form, once very popular, died out due to lack of patronage and in the face of the cinema onslaught. This prompted us to go in for product diversification." The items are now converted suitably and marketed in big hotels with even high and middle income customers picking them up.

Pottery on display at the exhibition.

An interesting display is the scroll painting done by D. Vaikuntam Nakash, a national merit awardee. The works are very intricate with the brush used being made from squirrel hair. The larger brush that the craftsman employs is made from goat hair.

The themes on the scrolls relate to the lives of various communities like Chakali Puranam for the Rajakas, Adipuranam for the Madigas, Jhambavantha Puranam for the Malas and the Markandeya Puranam for the Mudiras. "This art, once widespread in Telangana, is dying out and at present only me and my brother are continuing the tradition,'' says Nakash.

The crafts from Chittoor district include carvings from neem wood of various mythological themes in wooden panels. The really astounding piece of workmanship is the decorative `coloured door bracket'.

Kalamkari is a craft pursued in Kalahasti as a painting on cloth using vegetable dyes and used as a wall decorative. As Neelamma and Asha, the craftspersons at the stall, explain, "The process involves about 15 stages with maroon, blue, indigo, red and yellow being the commonly used colours. With the help of a sharpened wooden stick, we draw the outline of the subject which is mostly a mythological theme and later colours are filled in one after the other."

Also participating in the exhibition are artisans pursuing crafts in ceramic and stone pottery, enamel-painted brass art ware, wood carvings and embroidery works from Uttar Pradesh, papier mache, embroidery works, leather utility ware, leather products and Tanjore paintings from Tamil Nadu, wood inlay work in rosewood and sandalwood products from Karnataka, cane and bamboo furniture items of Tripura and Assam, Adivasi castings from Orissa, marble products and black prints from Jaipur in Rajasthan and jute products of West Bengal.

The Crafts Bazar is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. till October 10 (holidays and Sundays included).


Photos: C.V. Subrahmanyam.

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